The precarious employment of foreign workers and prospects for their participation in Germany (April 2021 – September 2023)

The flip side of highly skilled and skilled migration, which tends to go along with above-average wages and salaries, is precarious economic migration in the low-wage sector. As the coronavirus pandemic has most recently shown, those sectors and professions for which low pay and precarious employment conditions are typical are crucial to a well-functioning society and viable economy. At the same time, these are often jobs which only require qualifications below those of a skilled worker. Foreign workers are significantly over-represented in Germany’s low-paid industries, in particular in the following sectors: transport and logistics, food and hospitality, cleaning services, construction, and agriculture. Precarious employment often goes hand in hand with precarious opportunities for participation. This is due, on the one hand, to the forms of employment found in this area (e.g. temporary agency work, contracts for work and services, seasonal work and posting), to the rules on access and residence rights which are linked to that employment, and to real-life working conditions. On the other hand, certain forms of economic migration – which are often initially only meant to be temporary – call for an alternative understanding of integration, which does not always lead to permanent residence and ultimately to “full membership” following naturalisation and to participation in all key areas of life.

The aim of this research project is to systematically investigate the obstacles to and opportunities for participation of newly arrived EU and third-country workers in the low-wage sector and then to show how these obstacles can be overcome. Based on statistical, legal and empirical analyses and selected sector-specific case studies, the project will elaborate the normative and practical significance of the participation of precariously employed foreign workers and link this with courses of action for politics, business and civil society.

The project comprises a total of five modules, including a number of publications as well as involving and networking with stakeholders, practitioners and, in particular, representatives from politics, business/labour market, civil society and science. The research project is sponsored by Stiftung Mercator and runs from 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2023. A first publication has been released in August 2022, and two more in 2023.


Contact
Dr Holger Kolb
Head of Annual Report Unit & Deputy Managing Director of the SVR
Tel +49 30. 288 86 59 – 16
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Dr Franziska Loschert
Researcher
Tel +49 30. 288 86 59 – 34
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Franziska Schork
Researcher
Tel +49 30. 288 86 59 – 34
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